State of Iowa Overview

State of Iowa Overview

Iowa continues to be a slow-growing state. Iowa’s population reached 3,123,899 as of July 1, 2015, representing a 7 percent increase from 2000.1,2 Iowa’s population makes up 5 percent of the Midwest’s population,1 composed of 12 states. Iowa’s growth was higher than the 5 percent experienced in the Midwest region, but slower than the U.S. as a whole, which grew by 14 percent from 2000 to 2015.1,2 Iowa ranked 37th nationally in growth over this period.


Iowa’s population is older than that of the U.S. due to the higher proportion of Iowa’s population over the age of 64, at 15 and 14 percent, respectively.3 However, the proportion of Iowa’s young people is similar to that of the rest of the U.S. For both Iowa and the U.S., 6 percent of the total population is under the age of 5. School-aged children between the ages of 5 and 17 make up 17 percent of both Iowa’s and the U.S. population.3 Projections indicate that the populations of both Iowa and the U.S. will grow more slowly and continue to age. By 2030, one in five Americans is projected to be 65 and older with Iowa reaching that milestone earlier.4,5

Population Composition

The population of the U.S., as well as that of Iowa, is projected to become more racially and ethnically diverse over the next few decades. While the non-Hispanic white population is the current majority group in both the U.S. and Iowa, the share of this group is projected to decrease. The U.S. is projected to become a “majority-minority” nation by 2044, meaning that the non-Hispanic white population will make up less than 50 percent of the nation’s total population.4 Iowa’s minority population is also increasing, although not as fast as that of the rest of the country, and is projected to reach 14 percent by 2025 and 24 percent by 2050.5

Student Population

Demographic data on children in the college pipeline show big changes coming to the U.S. Data on students currently in the education system, ages 4 to 18, indicate that the nation’s future population of high school graduates and traditional-aged college students will be smaller and increasingly diverse.6

Iowa is following a similar path as the state’s school-aged population has become more diverse over the past decade, a trend that projections indicate will continue. The number of minority students in Iowa’s public schools is at an all-time high. Minority students made up 22 percent of the student body in Iowa’s public schools in 2014–15, up from 10 percent in 2000–01. While all minority groups saw increases during this time frame, the Hispanic population increased the most, from 4 percent of the student body in 2000–01 to 10 percent in 2014–15.7

Iowa’s 12th grade public high school enrollment is expected to remain steady through 2019–20.7 However, the number of minority students is expected to significantly increase. Between the 2013–14 and 2023–24 academic years, the percent increase in the number of Iowa public high school graduates is projected to be 4 percent for white students, 42 percent for Asian students, 60 percent for black students and 83 percent for Hispanic students.8

College-going rates of recent high school graduates continue to vary by race and ethnicity. Nationally, the college-going rate of recent high school graduates is highest among Asian students at roughly 81 percent. At 66 percent, the college-going rate of Hispanic students is nearing that of white students at 67 percent. The college-going rate of recent high school graduates who are black is the lowest at 57 percent.9

Impact on Iowa’s Higher Education Goal

Iowa’s current and projected demographic makeup poses challenges in reaching the state’s 70 percent postsecondary attainment goal by 2025. While the proportion of Iowa’s young people (less than 18 years) is projected to remain steady at close to 25 percent of the total population, the proportion of the state’s older population (65 years or older) is increasing and reaching retirement age, reducing the number of people who are of working age.5 The projected increases in minority student populations also have implications for college-going and completion rates. To reach this statewide goal, Iowa will need to increase the level of college attainment for recent graduates as well as people currently in the workforce and address racial/ethnic achievement and completion gaps.

1)     U. S. Census Bureau, Population Division. (2015). Annual estimates of the resident population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015.
2)     U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. (2010). Intercensal estimates of the Resident. Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010.
3)     U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. (2014). Age and Sex.
4)     Colby, S.L. & Ortman, J.M. (2015). Projections of the size and composition of the U.S. population 2014 to 2060. U.S. Census Bureau. P25-1143.
5)     Woods & Poole Economics, Inc. (2015). The complete economic and demographic data source CEDDS. The use of this data and the conclusion drawn from it are solely the responsibility of Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
6)     Lipka, S (2014). Colleges, here is your future. LX(19), A22-A27.
7)     Iowa Department of Education. (2015). The Annual Condition of Education Report 2015.
8)     Noel-Levitz. (2014). 2014-24 projections of high school graduates by state and race/ethnicity, based primarily on data from WICHE.
9)     National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. (2013). Table 302.20: Percentage of recent high school completers enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity: 1960 through 2013. Digest of Education Statistics.


Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on March 21, 2018 at 12:21am.